HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The city of Hattiesburg announced Monday the beginning of the early planning stages of its comprehensive sewer and water improvement program.
A key goal in the program is finding solutions to the problem of an odor in the downtown area which has generated complaints for years.
"I think the problem with the smell actually happened after Katrina," said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnnie DuPree. He added that the storm overturned surface aerators in the sewage treatment lagoons. Those aerators churn water at the surface and provide oxygen to microbes which then clean the water. They've since been repaired.
In addition to aeration problems, Dupree said the city is dealing with an influx of industrial waste at levels the current system can't handle.
The $12.5 million plan to overhaul the system with modern, bottom aerators and an additional treatment facility will be funded through a loan with the Mississippi Development Bank. That loan will be paid through bonds, grants, and regular fees.
Dupree said the southern lagoon, one of two, hasn't been dredged in 70 years, and that dredging will be another goal.
The city hopes to complete the project within seven years.